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The Path of Nature: Collecting Off the Beaten Path

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The Temptation of Saint Anthony

Workshop of Herri met de Bles (Netherlandish, Bouvines 1480?–after 1550)

Date:
ca. 1550–60
Medium:
Oil on wood
Dimensions:
Overall 8 7/8 x 13 3/4 in. (22.5 x 34.9 cm); painted surface 8 1/2 x 13 3/8 in. (21.6 x 34 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Bequest of Harry G. Sperling, 1971
Accession Number:
1976.100.1
  • Gallery Label

    Herri met de Bles, of whose life little is known, was the most important Flemish landscape painter after Joachim Patinir. This fine panel (better preserved at the left than at the right) is characteristic of a number of his works that feature catastrophic, fantastic landscapes. It includes a small owl—popularly considered to be the equivalent of the artist's signature (in Italy Herri is known as il Civetta—the owl)—perched in the window of the bulbous tower at the right. In its treatment of subject, the painting displays the influence of Hieronymus Bosch.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Forthcoming

  • Provenance

    Heinz Kisters, Kreuzlingen, Switzerland (in 1965); private collection (until 1968; sold to Böhler); [Julius Böhler, Munich, 1968–1969; sold to Kleinberger]; [Kleinberger, New York, 1969–75; bequeathed by Harry G. Sperling, last surviving partner of firm, to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 65.

    Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 6, 2012–January 4, 2013, no. 20.

    Beijing. National Museum of China. "Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," February 8–May 9, 2013, no. 20.

  • References

    Nancy A. Corwin. "The Fire Landscape: Its Sources and Its Development from Bosch through Jan Brueghel I, with Special Emphasis on the Mid-Sixteenth Century Bosch "Revival"." PhD diss., University of Washington, Seattle, 1976, p. 290, no. 79, pl. 86, catalogues it as "present location unknown" and attributes it to the "Hand K" follower of Bles, c. 1550–60; calls it "certainly by the same hand" as a Temptation of Saint Anthony (Rex de C. Nan Kivell, England); observes that although "showing characteristics of Bles's style, there is a tendency to exaggerate them more than he does as in the mountains in the left background," and that "the tower seems inspired by Bosch".

    Luc Serck. "Henri Bles & la peinture de paysage dans les pays-bas méridionaux avant Bruegel." PhD diss., Université Catholique de Louvain, 1990, vol. 4, pp. 938, 941, 943, no. 73, ill., ascribes it to "Henri Bles" and mentions a similarly composed picture formerly in the Wetzlar collection, Amsterdam (sold, Christie's, London, July 5, 1985, no. 53); compares the architecture with that in the "Temptation of Saint Anthony" in the Lisbon Museum [Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga].

    Luc Serck. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. July 7, 1991, observes that he had not seen our picture at the time he was writing his dissertation [see Ref. 1990] and that having seen it here last year, he is convinced that it could not be by Bles; cannot suggest a specific artist and, for want of something better, accepts Corwin's attribution [see Ref. 1976]; believes that the artist was in the "proche entourage" of Bles.

    Véronique Sintobin in From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. 37, 256–57, no. 65, ill. (color), dates it about 1550–60.

    Maryan W. Ainsworth in Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, p. 215, no. 20, ill.

    Peter Barnet and Wendy A. Stein in Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art; Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. [Tokyo], 2012, ill. pp. 36, 71 (color).



  • Notes

    The owl, in the imaginary structure at the right, is the "signature" often used by Herri met de Bles.

  • See also
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    Where
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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